Mixing up the Counter-Strike calendar

We all look forward to the ESL Ones and the Dreamhack Masters of the year. They provide us with some of the most competitive and intense Counter-Strike. With the number of events from the likes of ESL, Dreamhack and ELEAGUE still on the rise, it’s important that the fans get something different from time to time.

Enter Blast Pro Series, ESG Tour and World Electronic Sports Games. Their various changes to the format and innovative ways of producing Counter-Strike inject some excitement into the scene for long-time fans. This article will take a look at these upcoming tournaments and suggest why you should tune in.

Blast Pro Series

Despite this tournament aiming to switch up the scene, it’s still one of Denmark’s first big LAN events in CS:GO. The venue for the Blast Pro Series will be the Royal Arena in Copenhagen, capable of housing 16,000 people at max capacity.

The Royal Arena will host the Blast Pro Series. [Source: magasinetkbh.dk]

The announcement on HLTV tells us that three matches will be played simultaneously and will all be shown on screens around the arena. Fans will be able to choose the sound of the match they want to follow using headsets.

This type of stage setup was used at the most recent Call of Duty World Championship where they had the Bravo stream setup below the main stage, and they dipped into the Bravo stream during breaks on the main stage to fill time. It was an interesting concept which fans liked, for the most part. However, it was said that there wasn’t really any way of fully engaging with the Bravo stream even if the game was better or closer than the one on the main stage. This looks to be something Blast has already covered with fans being able to choose the sound of the match they want.

The Call of Duty World Championship had four teams on stage at once. [Source: Reddit u/theesportstv]

My interest is how Blast will be able to translate the thrill of watching three matches at once in the stadium to those watching at home. Will it just be a simple three stream setup? I’m hoping there’s something a bit more exciting. There’s the potential to have something like the Final Score football show, where we have live feedback from all the games going on and show all the best plays from each game as they happen.

Unfortunately, the $250,000 tournament isn’t until November 24th so we’ll have to wait until then to find out.

ESG Tour Mykonos

A new series of tournaments called the Electronic Sports Global Tour starts on September 7th on the Greek island of Mykonos.

The beautiful island of Mykonos. [Source: The Telegraph]

One of Greece’s many party destinations may seem like an odd place for a Counter-Strike tournament. However, Stamos Venios stated in their press release that “ESG Tour | Mykonos 2017 will not just be another ordinary event. The stunning view, relaxing atmosphere and great service will make it special and memorable for the players, who are the ones making esports what it is today: fascinating, enjoyable and fun.”

From the information, I’ve seen the tournament seems akin to cs_summit of early last year. That tournament was very popular with fans, with their favorite professionals casting the games and comedic content to fill breaks. Summit replaced the intensity of competitive Counter-Strike and replaced it with entertainment all while still delivering what we crave most, top level CS. I believe fans have been waiting for another tournament like that for a while. If you missed cs_summit, below is one of the highlights.

It will be up to ESG Tour to try to match, or even better, out do the unforgettable cs_summit. With a Greek island and the stunning Destiny Villa at their disposal, it’s definitely possible. We’ll be able to find out soon as popular teams such as SK Gaming, Virtus.pro and Team Liquid will touchdown in Mykonos at the beginning of September.

World Electronic Sports Games

This tournament is essentially a normal tournament, much like an ESL or Dreamhack one, with a single exception: anyone can sign up for the $1.5 million dollar tournament.

Everyone loves a good upset from time to time and there’s no better time than at a tournament of such caliber. It’s always a pleasure to watch new talent rise up. Hopefully some players will set themselves apart from the rest of the pack. There are qualifiers all across the world, so grab a few friends and you never know what could happen. Even if you get deep in the qualifier and end up losing to one of the top teams such as Cloud9 or Virtus.pro, who’ve already signed up, that in itself is an experience.

Last year Team EnVyUs hoisted the WESG trophy. [Source: HLTV.org]

The main event isn’t until March 2018 but the qualifiers are already underway so get yourself a team as soon as you can and see what you can make happen.


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Call of Duty Ghosts for dummies: Part two

This is a follow-up to my first article in which I had started discussing some simple setups for Search and Destroy. In this post, I’ll be covering Sovereign and Warhawk and then moving onto some perk choices. If you enjoy the article or think it could be improved please comment.

Sovereign

This map is a different beast in comparison to the two I’ve already covered. Unlike Freight and Octane, there’s no easy way of knowing when the enemy has bomb control.

Sovereign incorporates a three lane system, similar to most Counter-Strike maps. This usually means that the defense is spread thinner to cover all the lanes. However, with the setup I’m going to suggest for beginners, it should make locking it down much easier.

Defence

My strategy focuses on stacking the B bombsite. This is because it is much harder to retake since Remington’s can hold the flank from way back in spawn while the Vector players lock down the control room. Your Remington players have next to no chance of retaking B as they lose gunfights inside the map room 99% of the time. That leaves the round on your sub-machine gunners to win a series of head-on gunfights. It also gives you enough information on where players are if they do take the A bombsite, making the likelihood of you retaking much greater.

Players one and two have the job of holding the actual bomb site. Player one will play in the bomb room killing anyone attempting to plant. Player two will play on the stairs just outside watching B domination. If P1 gets pushed on bomb, it’s on P2 to get a quick trade kill. If the attackers try to grenade him out, P2 should counter-nade. It’s a strong setup because even player one dying can be good since they won’t expect another player so quickly and might hastily try to plant meaning you drop the bomb on spot.

Player three should hold snake and the cupboard. This player doesn’t need to be aggressive at all, he is there to ensure that no one gets on our side of the map through B. With the Remington, he should be able to pick up some free kills if they are daring enough to peek either of the positions.

Click to enlarge.

The linchpin of the setup is player four, who guards the underground and the push into range. This is from a sneaky spot just below blue catwalk. Should the enemy team plant A, this player can kill anyone who tries to cross from A bomb into range. If no one does, it makes the pinch onto the bomb site much easier since you don’t have to worry about that side of the map. Player two should also quickly be able to tell whether they have a player holding B domination or not. With that information, it means that their entire team is likely trapped between servers and zig making it easy pickings for your team.

Attacking

As with most maps you can go for the standard smoke Incog rush plants. On Sovereign, I recommend letting another player smoke the bomb and for the bomber to take Trophy System since grenading the bomb is so easy on this map.

As I mentioned in the defensive setup, it’s easy for defenders to see when attackers cross over to their side of the map. A way you can catch them off guard is to leave a player in snake while the rest of the team goes A. This means that the snake player can flank the catwalk player after he moves towards the A site.

For going B, I like to have one player climb up the ladder and hold the flank into the bomb room. Then I’d have a player on yellow stairs watching over the bomber. This can be the player with the smoke if you go for an Incog rush plant. Finally, have a guy on back catwalk initially watching a snake push so that ladder cannot get flanked then switching to holding the caution and full flank from the stairs opposite ladder.

Warhawk

Defence

Warhawk also uses the three lane system. On this map, it is fairly easy for the attackers to get control of both bomb sites. There are a number of spots that the defenders can use to their advantage to net free kills.

My default setup would be to have player one on the tank just outside the diner. This guy can see if anyone rushes mid or blue tarp. They can also see if any players come from A into the Z connector. This player can also quickly rotate to help back truck or water tower if enemies are spotted.

Player two is the truck player spotting the A push. His primary job is to get information of them pushing the bomb and focus on staying alive as opposed to making kills. Since the attackers can get to this site so quickly, it’s often the brunt of three or four-man pushes. The player can peek the fences from the barrel near veranda (I’ve never heard it called that but hey-ho) with thermal and call how many players he sees. He could also play more passive from the tree and wait for someone to peek back American, or garage as this site calls it.

Player three has the role of locking down the B site. This can be done from either the water tower or tin. I recommend using the thermal scope to spot players pushing into the back building or jumping on the bomb. One sneaky spot that can earn you kills is under the blue tarp at the tower. When the attackers try to plant bomb an assault rifle will often peek from loading bay giving you a free kill. Similarly to player two, the main job is getting the information that enemies are B. Once the enemies are called out you can ask for player two to come and help from tin.

Click to enlarge.

Last but not least we have player four. This guy is free to roam as the rounds develop. If the attackers are seemingly favoring the A bomb site he can sit in American and kill enemies that are trying to kill your truck player. Alternatively, he can rush post office on B and hit the flank fast. This allows for your tower player to quickly rotate to A. There are a number of options he has such as peeking mid more aggressively with a sniper or rushing blue tarp. I would say his role is actively trying to get first blood.

Attacking

Attacking on Warhawk usually ends up being four-man pushing either A or B. The smoke Incog pushes are particularly effective on this map since the thermal hybrid sight is a popular choice due to its long lanes. On Warhawk, I recommend the bomber using Trophy System again since it is easy to get good grenades onto the bomb sites.

The most effective strategy would be to have two people rush into American pre-firing the back door. If there’s a player there then he will either die or get traded by the second player. If no one is there the bomber can rush plant with his trophy system since the truck player will have no chance of killing him. This is effective since it puts pressure on the defense straight from the off since it only leaves them with forty seconds to retake.

When planting B, I think it’s best to wait for first blood before trying to plant. If the defenders spot no one A, they often get restless and flank early, which you can have a guy watching from the blitz portal or antiques. There is a little corner just below water tower where attackers can sit to get easy kills, I recommend trying to get a player there before planting.

Perk Choices

Before rounding out the article I wanted to make a little section on perk choices. This is because recently I’ve seen many players waste slots on unneeded perks. Firstly, you should always have Dead Silence and Focus. The latter is important as it reduces the flinch you get when hit and Dead Silence since almost all players will be using headsets and will be able to pick up on the smallest sounds.

A prime example of wasting slots I’ve encountered multiple times was quickdraw on the Vector. This shouldn’t even need explaining but the sub-machine guns aim down sights fast enough in this game and the difference isn’t great enough to warrant using up three create-a-class slots. You could have two grenades or Incog over that which is much more valuable.

List of all the perks and their cost in Ghosts. [Source: u/plokijuh1229]

Another is Sleight of Hand. In Search and Destroy there is no reason to use this perk, the MTAR and Vector have large enough magazines to confidently pick up three kills. If you’re using the Remington you’re most likely going to be far enough away that you have time to reload anyway. Obviously, it’s a nice perk to have and gives you peace of mind knowing you have a full clip but I’d take it as your first specialist bonus rather than two of your create-a-class points.

My final point will be that you don’t have to take Quickdraw on the Remington either. Although the increase in ADS speed is substantial on the assault rifles if you pre-aim the right places you should be able to get the kills regardless. Take playing truck on Warhawk for example, they can only push you from back American or from the open bomb site. Not having it definitely means you suffer on the retakes but it’s just something to consider. Perhaps you might take both Agility, Marathon and a pistol to fast peek the cross on Freight. It’s your choice.


You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles. You can find me on Twitter at @JackWrightIGL. Feature image courtesy of callofdutyghosts2.net, map layouts sourced from unofficialcallofduty.com

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Call of Duty Ghosts for Dummies – Part One

With the CoD World League coming to an end with the World Championship there’s not much to do aside from wait for WWII. However, the professionals have turned to Call of Duty Ghosts, the competitive title from 2013-2014 in preparation for boots on the ground. With the rate at which esports are growing it’s needless to say that Call of Duty will have gained many new viewers over the past few years. If you never played Ghosts in its heyday and are interested in picking up a copy, here are a few tips for when you get started.

Weapon Choices

Assault Rifles

Starting with Assault Rifles, in which only one is used consistently, the Remington R5. Its high damage and low recoil make it the go to. The weapon’s only downfall is its low fire rate. Despite this, none of the other rifles can match it’s time to kill with the R5 consistently killing in three bullets.

The FAD assault rifle [Source: CoD Wiki]

At one point the professionals dabbled with the FAD. Due to its high fire rate and low recoil, it was tested as an alternative to the R5 on some of the shorter range maps. It was relatively unsuccessful since the low AR movement speed in Ghosts meant that it couldn’t compete with the Sub-Machine guns at medium range and was bested by the consistency of the R5 at long range. However, it is still an option if you aren’t a fan of the R5.

The most common attachments on Assault Rifles are Red Dot paired with Foregrip. The Red Dot is to free your eyes of the awkward iron sights. Meanwhile, the Foregrip simply improves accuracy slightly. On some of the longer range maps such as Octane, pros have been known to use Muzzle Brake as opposed to the Foregrip in order to keep the damage across longer sight lines.

Another popular attachment is the Thermal Hybrid Scope. It is used for its ability to more easily spot out enemies through heat signatures with the ability to switch back to a normal red dot. Giving you the best of both worlds but beware. Enemies can use the perk Incog so they become immune to thermal scopes making them very hard to spot.

Sub-Machine Guns

The Vector Sub-Machine Gun [Source: CoD Wiki]

By far the best gun in the game, the Vector CRB is the most common gun in CoD Ghosts. It’s high damage and fairly high fire rate means it more often than not kills in two bullets. Paired with a Foregrip and Muzzle Brake the Vector’s damage range is extended. Making it all the more deadly.

However, the Vector only became the best gun about two-thirds into Ghosts’ cycle. Before that, the MTAR-X was the most popular choice. The sub handles like an Assault Rifle with SMG movement speed. It’s fair time to kill means that some professionals stuck with it even after the Vector buff. It remains a good choice on maps like Warhawk and Octane where there are more medium—long range gunfights meaning the MTAR can best the Vector with its AR handling.

Popular attachments for sub-machine guns are Foregrip and Muzzle Brake. This is to extend their damage range whilst improving the already strong accuracy of the MTAR and Vector. Some pros prefer to use a red dot on the Vector. In my opinion, it’s personal preference as the Vector is already so strong you can clear up your vision by using it.

Sniper Rifles and Shotguns

That leaves us with the aforementioned, considering just about everything else is banned. There are two main snipers used which are the USR and L115. The USR has a slightly higher movement speed and handling than the L115 which makes it a good choice if you want to rush for first blood. However, it has lower damage meaning it gets more hit markers than its counterpart. While the L115 still gets hit markers from the knee down, it is a more consistent killing machine making it the more common option. Equipped with your sniper you might like to use the thermal scope to more easily spot out enemies.

The FP6 Shotgun [Source: CoD Wiki]

The most overpowered shotgun, the Bulldog, got banned halfway through Ghosts. More cunning pros tried out the pump-action shotgun, the FP6. While it wasn’t as potent as its predecessor it is still an annoying way to catch your enemies off guard. I find it particularly useful when defending the B bomb site on Sovereign.

Competitive Maps

For the sake of this article, I will just be looking at the maps used in Search and Destroy. Those maps being Octane, Freight, Sovereign and Warhawk.

Octane

I’ll start on the defensive side of Octane, which can be quite a challenge. How I like my team to setup is with two players holding the cross to the defender’s side of the map. You can have a player watching mid from the tank outside diner and one holding bottom broken. This frees up a player to play top pawn where they can repeatedly peek B bomb until they spot someone with the last player being free to roam. The fourth could rush motel or the B domination flag to get more map control. Or he could hold gas station to help the broken player if he gets rushed. If someone is spotted on the bomb from pawn then you can hurl a few grenades at them in an attempt to kill the bomb planter.

The attacking side is much harder since you only really have access to the B bombsite. A lot of players like to run smokes with Incog and try to get a fast plant. This is effective as the Remington players holding the likes of pawn and broken will struggle in motel’s close quarters. Other teams may rather hold to see if a guy rushes into the motel and pick him off before planting or doing everything possible to kill the player top pawn before they plant. This could be through grenades or sniping. There is also an explosive gas pipe which can be shot which can sometimes kill the player.

As aforementioned getting to A is a challenge. Sometimes teams go on an all-out rush to broken from the start of the round. Personally, I like to have a guy try to snipe the player pawn while the rest of the team rushes and tries to kill anyone playing broken. Another way is to play B as normal, kill the pawn player before rotating back and trying to cross again. As you can tell by now the pawn player is very crucial to the round as he has the most vision and can feed information to the rest of his team. With him dead it is much easier to cross to A as the only player that could spot it after that is the broken player, if he’s still there.

Freight

Defending on Freight normally involves heavily stacking towards the A bombsite. Since the attackers can only access B by crossing the train tracks or by breaking the underground gate, which makes a loud noise, it makes sense to focus your efforts on A.

If you catch the enemy crossing onto the bomb then it should be a free kill for someone playing in red. Players one and two should focus on holding red and the area between it and the bomb. Looking at the diagram I believe these are the optimal positions to play. All player one has to do is watch the main entrance to red. Meanwhile, player two can see the jump from the train into red, logs and B domination.

Player three should play in the Owens building and attempt to spot out the attacking assault rifle players. The emphasis should be on getting information for the team as opposed to getting a kill. Staying alive is more important as the Owens player stops players crossing from white to B bomb. Player four is free to roam, however, I believe he is best spent helping watch the cross. He can rush the electric box near the white train to see the entire cross or hold bottom Owens getting information from B domination and storage containers.

If the attackers do try to rush underground the bottom Owens player can watch if anyone pushes front while player three can watch the cross onto bomb from the second floor.

As you can tell attackers have a hard time on Freight. The most successful plays are usually explosive ones such as a double push red where you bait the first guy in to kill the red player. This is a favourable trade for attackers since red is such a pivotal point on the map. Similarly to Octane, you could try the smoke Incog rush onto bomb then your ARs can watch the defuse from Porter or White.

One unique strategy is leaving an assault rifle to get a pick from in base while three of you stack underground. Wait for the AR to hopefully make a kill then explode out of underground. This generates confusion since the AR will kill someone from spawn to A then all of a sudden the gate is broken. The defenders have to worry about being pinched while the main attackers focus on getting the bomb down.

Conclusion

Obviously, take these strategies with a pinch of salt. They are basic and mostly intended for newer players but it’s definitely a good starting point for anyone looking to incorporate more team play. Since this article is getting long, I’ll finish the remainder of the maps in Monday’s article. My paint skills aren’t great but if you find the diagrams helpful then I can make more. If there are other things you think I should bring up don’t hesitate to comment.

 

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles. You can find me on Twitter at @JackWrightIGL. Feature image courtesy of callofduty.wikia, map layouts sourced from unofficialcallofduty.com

 

Songs of praise for 2017’s Call of Duty World League Championship

The culmination of every Call of Duty season is the World League Championship and this year was no different. It’s no secret that Infinite Warfare has been, let’s say, disappointing but I believe this championship to be one of the most memorable of all time in spite of that. In this article, I’ll pick out a few of the things that made this Worlds a pleasure for both competitors and fans alike.

A multitude of teams

Despite OpTic Gaming going into the tournament as favorites, it wasn’t as clear cut as previous years. Due to IW’s erratic nature, any of EnVyUs, eUnited, Splyce or Luminosity could have won the event on their day.

OpTic had to beat Anaheim champions Luminosity to get to the final. [Source: MLG]

When these teams clashed they produced amazing series worth re-watching while we wait for WWII: OpTic narrowly beating Splyce to defeat the seventh place meme, EnVy’s ridiculous comeback against eUnited and EnVy sending OpTic to the lower bracket, to name a few. Any times these teams had to face off against one another you could feel the tension. After EnVy forced OpTic to play against Luminosity, I’m sure Green Wall fans were worried their team would fall short again.

You even had Rise Nation and FaZe Clan making last ditch efforts to save their dismal seasons. At one point I thought a Team Revenge style run was on the cards. It made the majority of series thrilling to watch.

A beautiful venue

Last year was the first time Call of Duty had used an arena as a venue. At the time we were all in awe at how CoD could fill such a venue, but, looking back, that stage was nowhere near as beautiful as the Amway Centre.

At Call of Duty XP, the players were in towering booths away from the crowd meaning the fans couldn’t as easily see or hear the players. This, in turn, meant that fans were less likely to get hyped about huge plays and players less likely to feed off of the crowd’s energy. This year we got the open stage we are used to seeing, filled with an array of lights to make sure all eyes stayed focused on the CoD at hand.

From the stream, it also looked like the crowd was more tightly packed in this time. The upper rank and the floor looked pretty close, making it easier for quieter fans to get involved with the chanting when it’s going on all around them.  My final point is that the lesser amount of large venues this year made the fact that it was being held in this huge stadium all the more exciting.

Multi-stream, multi-stage

MLG’s decision to run four streams in the group stage on all of MLG.tv, Twitch and YouTube is something to be proud of. While there may have been a few hiccups with the audio and flickering video, for the most part it was solid.

The schedule was easy enough to follow using the graphic on the World League Twitter and meant that the tournament could be run with the best format with all the players having the same downtime between games. This is something other esports such as Counter-Strike and League of Legends have been ridiculed for. Maybe it’s time they took a leaf out of Call of Duty’s book.

Another surprise was the decision to give the Bravo stream its own stage, directly below the main one. This is the first time I’ve seen this happen in esports and I would say it was successful. Fans could enjoy the juiciest matches’ full screen and then watch the Bravo stream in-between the Alpha games. There were times when the loser of the game on the main stage would play the winner of the team on the lower stage, making it all the more exciting for fans as they could see both games as they were unfolding.

Four teams played simultaneously at the World Championship. [Source: Reddit u/theesportstv]

To the fans

And finally, thanks to the fans for showing up and supporting what they love. All the chanting, funny signs and talking down caster’s microphones only made the stream more entertaining for us stuck at home watching from our bedrooms. It’s amazing that even with such a lackluster title this year everyone made the effort to support the biggest event of the year. Hopefully, it’s a sign of even better things to come when we ditch the jetpacks in November.


You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles. You can find me on Twitter at @JackWrightIGL. Feature image courtesy of Astro Gaming.

scump optic

Scump and OpTic finally become CoD champs

The drought is over for the Greenwall. Over two years after forming a roster of impeccable skill, the longest standing roster in Call of Duty esports, OpTic Gaming, has finally been crowned a Call of Duty champion.

The Infinite Warfare season was not the greatest this OpTic Gaming roster has experienced, but they were able to finish it in style. With tournament wins at CWL Paris and CWL Dallas, OpTic was on the verge of another dominant season before poor placings in the Global Pro League (GPL) Stage One Playoffs and CWL Anaheim. They picked it up again just in time.

OpTic came into the Call of Duty Championship in Orlando fresh off a GPL Stage Two Playoff victory. That momentum made them a favorite, but not the only one, to win CoD Champs.

Unlike in years past, it was almost impossible to tell which team would emerge victorious. Would it be eUnited, or perhaps FaZe? The teams made high-profile roster swaps in hopes of a big payoff. How about Splyce? The European organization made it to the Grand Finals of CoD Champs on Black Ops III and was considered the best EU team again this year. Or what about Luminosity or Team EnVyUs? Both teams had solid years and were always able to contend with other top teams.

In the end, the Grand Final featured two of the oldest teams in Call of Duty esports: OpTic Gaming vs. Team EnVyUs. A regular ol’ eClassico.

OpTic and nV had played earlier on Championship Sunday in the winner’s bracket final, where nV was able to take a rare Hardpoint map off of OpTic to take the series 3-1. But OpTic surged right back in the loser’s final against Luminosity and the matchup was repeated. This time, OpTic had to defeat nV twice to take the crown. And they did just that.

The win cements OpTic Gaming as one of the greatest Call of Duty teams of all time, right up there with compLexity. Some would even say that with a CoD Champs title under their belt, OpTic has surpassed the old coL roster in that regard. Afterall, they were the team to beat for three years straight. It also helps that both Damon “Karma” Barlow and Ian “Crimsix” Porter were part of the coL dynasty, so essentially they have now surpassed themselves.

OpTic Gaming CoD Champs ring count

No other Call of Duty team collectively has as many CoD Champs rings as OpTic Gaming. They now have seven:

Damon “Karma (or three-rings)” Barlow x 3

Ian “Crimsix” Porter x 2

Seth “Scumpi” Abner 1

Matt “FormaL” Piper x 1

Along with his first Call of Duty Championship win, FormaL is also going home with an MVP award. For OpTic, FormaL has always been a rock with the AR, keeping his team in contention when his teammates are having a bad game. The MVP award adds an additional $25,000 to his winnings from the tournament.

Even though he didn’t win MVP, it’s hard to say anyone deserved the CoD Champs win more than Scump. In player polls, he has consistently been considered the best player in the game. A part of OpTic Gaming since Modern Warfare 3, Scump has been to five CoD Champs with the team. In his first two, he managed to take home third place. In his next two, OpTic settled with seventh place finishes. But now, Scump has finally earned himself a ring. Perhaps more willl come.

Trailing right behind OpTic in CoD Champs in rings is Team EnVyUs, who, with the same roster as last year, returned to the Grand Final looking for a repeat win. If they had been successful, Jordan “Jkap” Kaplan would have been the first to three rings instead of Karma and the team would have nine rings combined.

Now, just two months remain until the release of the next game in the Call of Duty franchise: WWII. The game will put boots back on the ground, a return to traditional gameplay. It’s too early to tell which players will excel and which will fall off, but the next year of Call of Duty esports will be starting off on the right foot.


Josh Billy is a long time Call of Duty fan. You can email him at joshuatbilly@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter.

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers.

Image by Lalo Torres

Ranking the biggest events in esports

In honor of it being the week of the International, I wanted to discuss the events that have helped legitimize esports. From DOTA to League, all the way to fighting games and Counter-Strike, each game has pushed the scene forward with events that not only grab the attention of esports fans, but even more importantly the general public.

The five events mentioned below have all played an important role in building up their respective scenes. They have not only been great for publicity but have also made careers in esports a reality. They have partially changed the communities in which these events take place. Here are the five most essential events today.

5. Call of Duty World Championships

Activision has made serious strides into making Call of Duty a premiere title within the esports landscape. The creation of the Call of Duty Championship, with prize pools over $1 million, along with the creation of Call of Duty World League, is the support this game needed.

It’s not only given fans more to watch each weekend but also gives them a reason to follow along as the season moves closer to the World Championship. In a short time, Call of Duty has become the premier console shooter and it’s thanks to this.

4. ESL CS:GO

Counter-Strike is different than the other esports. The scene doesn’t have one championship event that takes priority over the others. It’s an open landscape with many different events that offer plenty of payouts.

However, there’s one league that consistently puts together the most competitive and prestigious events. ESL has always been a major contributor to Counter-Strike dating back to 1.6, but in Global Offensive they’ve stepped up significantly. The one other event to rival ESL is Turner’s ELEAGUE which brought in a million unique viewers on Twitch alone.

For this reason, I have to mention Counter-Strike in this discussion. While it doesn’t have a keystone tournament like The International or Evo, the largest events in CS surpass any other event in terms of general interest. ESL is a great example of this, but there’s plenty of other tournaments that also take precedent in this argument.

3. League of Legends – Worlds

League of Legends wasn’t the first game to popularize the esports age, but it’s mostly responsible for the boom in popularity since the creation of the League Championship Series. The LCS has been a major success, in terms of growing esports, and has kept players interested in the game since release.

Continually, the League of Legends season culminates into the World Championships, a month long tournament that brings together all the regional champions. League is essentially the only title currently that has a system that funnels into a championship event. 15 days of competition while a litany of the best teams compete for millions in prizes on the big stage of Madison Square Garden and other stadiums.

2. Evo

By the same token, no other event comes close to the history of the Evolution series. Dating back to 1996, Evo has been the linchpin for all the growth in the fighting game community. Evo has single handily brought the underground community into the Mandalay Bay Stadium.

It’s hard to say that any other event matches the intensity that Evo cultivates. Once a player gets on that grand stage, it’s almost a guarantee that something amazing will follow. It’s also the one event that doesn’t require any knowledge coming in because of the simplicity of fighting games. Anyone can enjoy it and more importantly, anyone can feel the hype generated from the world’s most prestigious fighting game tournament.

In spite of the fact that Evo has a significantly lower prize pool than these other events, it’s still considered by many to be the most meaningful tournament for the players. Coupled with the history, an Evo trophy means something more than just a check. It’s a chance to cement a legacy as one of the greats.

The International 7. Photo courtesy of GosuGamers

1. The International

Finally, we reach The International. It’s an event responsible for bringing in a new generation of esports fans. It not only has the highest prize pool in esports, but in a short time has become the most sought after trophy in the entire scene.

It’s a life changing event. The rush of playing for millions of dollars amps up the intensity levels. Even as a fan, the adrenaline begins to pump. It’s a wild ride from start to finish, and not one event has been a let down in seven years. Valve’s responsible for making it an event in every sense of the word. It’s no longer just a DOTA tournament, it’s a happening in the Seattle area.


You can ‘like ’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Blake!

Ones to watch: GPL season two playoffs

Although the teams for the Call of Duty World Championship have just been finalized there is one more battle ready to take place. That battle is the playoffs of Call of Duty’s second LAN pro league. The first round matchups caused controversy within the scene as they were drawn off stream leading some players to believe they were fixed. Although that may be detrimental to some squad’s chances of winning the tournament, there will be some thrilling first matches for fans to tune in to.

This article will pick out some key players their team will need if they are to overcome the rest of the field.

FaZe Clan’s Pierce “Gunless” Hillman

Two of Call of Duty’s biggest brands go head to head in round one. The first, FaZe Clan, is still fresh off of the transfer of Gunless. Meanwhile, Team EnVyUs continue to falter against the top teams.

Call of Duty World Championship

Gunless led eUnited to the trophy at CWL Atlanta. [Source: MLG]

Both sides have struggled massively in Infinite Warfare so I expect this one to be a brawl. If FaZe are to come out on top Gunless needs to be the star he was back on eUnited. The team qualified for the players in the final series of group blue. They had to win the series versus Ghost Gaming without conceding two map losses. They managed to end it convincingly on the fourth map, although, games one and three were nail-biters.

Looking at FaZe’s stats, it seems odd that Gunless had the lowest overall kill death ratio. It could be that with Clayster’s departure Enable can embrace being the main assault rifler. Furthermore, opening up space for Attach to make plays but Gunless is going to have to be on that same level if they are to take down the likes of Splyce or Luminosity.

I’m not hating on Gunless’ performance by any means, the man was still a beast in Search and Destroy. The Canadian had the highest K/D whilst simultaneously having the most bombs planted. It’s just we know that the CWL Atlanta MVP has more to offer in the respawns.

Tom “Tommey” Trewen of Fnatic

Tommey has been at the top of European CoD for as long as I can remember. Even though nowadays Splyce is taking all the glory, the Brit remains a huge figure in the scene leading Fnatic’s foray into Call of Duty.

Call of Duty World Championship

Tommey was perfect for Fnatic’s entrance into CoD. [Source: @fnatic]

When the team was conceived many would have believed Tommey to be its star player, however, he has been overshadowed by adored brothers Skrapz and Wuskin. Much like Gunless, we know that Tommey can bring more to the table.

He has always been a clutch player, particularly in Search and Destroy. If the squad is to knock down the Green Wall, Fnatic is going to need that skill, especially since you could argue OpTic’s best game mode right now is SnD.

Enigma6’s Nicholas “Proto” Maldonado

Call of Duty World Championship

Proto does the dirty work for E6. [Source: enigma6group.com]

The notorious Enigma6 qualified from the same scrappy group as FaZe. They secured their playoff spot due to their head to head record against Ghost Gaming, beating the team both times they played. However, the wins didn’t come any easier.

Latest addition Royalty put his backpack on for the weekend leading the slaying in every single game mode with General usually not far behind. Proto was lacking in that department, finishing the weekend with an overall K/D of 0.90 being sub par in Uplink and SnD in terms of the slaying.

In spite of the stats, Proto holds his place in the team. He was their lead scorer in both Uplink and Hardpoint. However, the lack of fragging will be a problem against the likes of eUnited if the team want to make a deep run. With no guarantees that Royalty will go that nuclear again if Proto can step up and make the difference, they might be able to steal a win. Something Enigma6 is quite known for doing.

Trei “Zer0” Morris of Splyce

At MLG Anaheim, Zero was fighting to be the best player in the world. The man was hitting shots we thought not possible. The second place finish seems to have hit him hard with group yellow being one of his worst events yet.

Call of Duty World Championship

Zer0 pictured left on stage. [Source: MLG]

Similarly to Enigma6, Splyce qualified for the playoffs because of a 2-0 head to head against fellow Europeans Red Reserve. Despite their victories over Red, they were another team that looked unconvincing after being swept by eUnited and even losing to Rise Nation on the final day.

If Splyce is to beat the number one ranked team Luminosity in the first round, they are going to need their best player back on top form. His K/D in the pro league was at 0.90 while at Anaheim he racked up a deadly 1.17 over 38 maps. If Octane performs the way he did at Anaheim I honestly believe Zero is one of the only players that could possibly shut him down.

If Zero wants to defend Splyce’s title from season one he’ll have to prove that group yellow was an anomaly in an otherwise fantastic year for him. The playoffs start up later today with the first series being eUnited against Enigma6, tune into mlg.tv to see the action unfold.

 

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles. You can find me on Twitter at @JackWrightIGL. Feature image from MLG, Stats courtesy of codcompstats.com

Red Reserve’s recent coming

Red Reserve initially started as a sub-group of the notorious FaZe Clan in order to satisfy fans of their roots in Call of Duty sniping as FaZe began to branch out. However, they made waves in the esports scene earlier this year after Swedish organization Orbit acquired all rights to the Red Reserve brand. It was a smart business move that utilized Red Reserve’s mass following in supporting their various esports teams.

Although the move was finalized many months ago, the organization has recently hit the spotlight following their Counter-Strike and Call of Duty teams results at events across the globe.

For you fans in need of a team to root for, I’m going to give you a couple of reasons as to why this organization is an exciting one to watch.

Counter-Strike and DreamHack Valencia

The team headed into DreamHack Valencia as an unknown – everyone knew they had acquired former major finalist Mikail ‘Maikelele’ Bill but were uncertain on the team’s level as they had not yet played on LAN or faced this type of opposition.

Their group matched the Swedes against fellow countrymen Ninjas in Pyjamas as well as two North American teams in CLG and NRG. My sole reason for tuning into the series was because I was an advocate of Maikelele when he played for the Ninjas and I wanted to see what he saw in this new squad. I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

A fragging leader

Hampus had some of the best stats at Dreamhack. [Source: HLTV]

Leading Maikelele and crew was eighteen-year-old Hampus ‘hampus’ Poser. The teenager seemed to be something rarely found: a fragging in-game leader. He was fantastic against Heroic in the semifinal and almost single-handedly took the game to a third map. On the map in question, Overpass, Hampus anchored the B bomb site, earning an array of multi-kills and boasting an ADR of 103.9 and a KAST* of 83.3%. Even in their previous series against CLG, he was only out-fragged by the team’s main AWPer.

A note I made on the strategic side of Red Reserve was that they had a heavy focus on Molotov based executes. As opposed to saving the Molotov’s for post-plant they would use four or five to safely clear the site. This meant that they were taking less 50/50 aim duels. They also seemed to have flashbangs left on players late in the round, making it possible for them to clutch many 2vX situations.

A deadly duo

The man in charge of the AWP was one of Red Reserve’s twins, Joakim ‘Relaxa’ Gustafsson. Unlike most top level AWPers such as KennyS or Fallen, Relaxa isn’t flashy but consistent down range. A trait mostly overlooked nowadays, he never missed shots he was supposed to hit. Similarly to Hampus, Relaxa was also an anchor on their favorite map Mirage. The player was quintessential in their CT side setup playing from CT spawn. Not only did he lock down the A site but also sniped down the tunnel into mid with deadly effect. Below is a clip of him popping off a little bit.

Now everyone loves a set of twins and this time is no different. Tipped by analysts as the next big Swedish player, Relaxa’s brother Fredrik ‘FREDDyFROG’ Gustafsson is a strong well-rounded player who is particularly good in the clutch. Although his performance dropped off as they faced tougher opponents, he was influential in their series against the Americans. If he can start to bring some of those plays to the worlds’ best he’ll definitely catch the eye of the top Swedish teams.

Right-hand men

The final two players to discuss are Alfred ‘RuStY’ Karlsson and Maikelele. These two seemed to be Hampus’ right-hand men. Whatever he needed them to do, they would do. RuStY, in particular, was impressive because of his ability to dedicate himself to entrying when needed. All though it had varied success, I believe one of the hardest things to do in Counter-Strike is fully dedicate yourself to entrying. On the CT side, he would provide utility for his star players to garner opening frags.

Maikelele had a pretty quiet tournament overall. He ran the second AWP when needed, but other than that usually he’d get one kill before being traded out. However having Maikelele for the future is a huge bonus as he is a player that can come alive at any time. When he’s having one of his days with the AWP he is near unstoppable, which he proved back in his days on NiP. His best map was the one which took them to the grand final where he netted 33 kills, demonstrating his tendency to show up when it matters.

CS:GO conclusions

Although it could be argued that Red Reserve should have never made it past CLG after Koosta’s mishap. The team showed great resilience, playing twelve maps in total, especially after their embarrassing opener against the Ninjas in Pyjamas. It did, however, make them all the more exciting to watch because every time it came down to winning they did so. They even gave NiP a run for their money on Mirage in the grand final. I believe Red Reserve has a bright future with Hampus at the helm and the likes of Freddy and Relaxa leading the charge.

Call of Duty and the Global Pro League

After finishing top eight at one of Call of Duty’s biggest events, MLG Anaheim, it seemed unfair that Red Reserve’s Call of Duty team was pitted against season one champions Splyce and a revitalized eUnited in the Global Pro League. Despite narrowly missing out on the playoffs on map count, they proved themselves to be a menacing team heading into the World Championships.

Europeans on the rise

European Call of Duty, in general, is trending at the moment, with Splyce winning the first season of the Global Pro League and Epsilon blossoming. There’s no better time than now to start getting behind another upcoming EU team.

The Red Reserve roster consists of Urban, Seany, Rated and Joe. Rated is the most recent addition to the squad, though he played with them earlier in the year. The change came as a surprise to many when his former team placed above Red Reserve last season but he still opted to make the move. The deciding factor was his chemistry with Joe, as the pair placed second at the World Championships last year and have played alongside each other for the majority of their careers.

Rated left Elevate to join Red Reserve. [Source: MLG]

Having a team you can rely on is essential in any sort of competition and it definitely showed in their play. In Crusher Search and Destroy versus eUnited, they made numerous plays that required full commitment from the team. In one round, instead of defending the bomb after it had been planted, they made a four man push into the base to catch the Americans off guard. And analysts were also full of praise for their judgment to go for straight defuses whilst there are still multiple players alive. This forces the hand of the opposition rather than allowing them to sit back and wait for the retake to come in.

A balanced roster

One aspect of Call of Duty that’s always been exciting is the trash talk and the hype some players bring to the table, and Rated is another one of those players. Over the years, players such as Aches, Clayster and Killa have gained recognition for their ability to throw opposing players off their game. Rated has had the same effect, it was only recently a Reddit thread with back and forth between himself and Zero of Splyce came to light. Not only does his fiery personality shine through on social media, it is replicated through his style in-game. The aggressive assault rifler does not let up on his enemies, pressuring them into making split second decisions.

His buddy Joe also has his own unique playstyle. The Brit likes to get behind enemy lines to kill multiple opponents from angles they don’t expect. He does so by anticipating their rotations and by picking the fastest routes to get there. Admittedly it’s harder to pull off against well-drilled opponents but it will easily upset some of the teams attending the World Championship.

Their NV4 player Seany has only recently popped up on my radar. Easily their best player over the course of their GPL weekend, Seany was earning killstreaks map after map with his laser like shot. These killstreaks mean that even if they are beat off of rotation they can be used to resecure the spawns for the upcoming hardpoint. If he can bring the same consistency to the World Championship, Red Reserve can rely on those streaks to break some of the more challenging Hardpoints against the most challenging opponents.

Finally, we have Urban. This guy has spent most of his professional career on Team Infused with MarkyB. They had many first place finishes at European LANs but were unable to replicate the same success overseas. During this time Urban has gained a wealth of experience and has started putting it to use on Red Reserve. For me, he can be the star player of this team if he can elevate his play ever so slightly. He’s a danger with any sort of weapon and can clutch up victories in any of the game types.

Call of Duty Conclusions

For you CoD fans this is an entertaining team to watch because of the variety of play styles on display that’s slowly being matched with strong calling. They are a team that goes against the curve and I think they’ll surprise many at CWL Championship. They may just become the giant killers and knock off teams we expect to place top eight.


You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles. You can find me on Twitter at @JackWrightIGL. Feature image courtesy of redreserve.gg

*ADR means average damage per round and KAST stands for Kill, Assist, Survive or Trade percentage.

 

Value of pro player input in Call of Duty WWII

Scrolling through Twitter this morning, I saw a Tweet by Patrick “ACHES” Price stating that he had been working on the upcoming CoD title with Sledgehammer. He went on to hype his followers up by saying he was extremely excited about the future because of it.

Whilst reading through the replies I noticed two people arguing about how Call of Duty is changing. Changing in its efforts to become a top esport and how the developers are forgetting about the more casual fan base by only inviting competitors to test the new game out. This got me thinking about how esports players helping to develop the game not only helps competitive but also the casual fan base. So here I am writing an article about it.

Why esports players and not casual players?

This argument is mostly redundant since the recent E3 gave many casual CoD fans the chance to test the game out and give feedback. Although many of the attendees might have been YouTubers or celebrities and their feedback is useful, they don’t play the game at the level of esports pros or invest the same amount of time into it.

Esports players are more qualified to give their input on the game than the more casual player. Aches, for example, has been competing in Call of Duty since Modern Warfare and probably played long before that. To reach the highest level someone has to dedicate all of their spare time into playing the game. For most professional gamers I would assume that to be anywhere between eight to twelve hours a day.

ACHES is one of the most successful Call of Duty professionals of all time. [Source: MLG]

In my opinion, someone who spends that much time playing Call of Duty probably knows more about the game than any other player or even developer. Why shouldn’t they have the chance to voice their opinions and concerns? Sadly, the more casual player would most likely disagree, but let me explain.

They only use one gun though?

I have seen players use the argument that professional players only use a minute amount of the arsenal available. However, this is another misconception from the casual community on the competitive scene. On the game’s release, competitive players spend hours upon hours grinding the game in an attempt to figure out the best weapons and attachments. It’s only in recent years that we’ve been restricted to few weapons because they are simply a cut above the rest of the options.

For example, back in Call of Duty Ghosts the main assault rifle was the Remington R5. It was almost pin point accurate with a moderate rate of fire and strong time to kill. For those that can remember, if you ever tried to use one of the other options, such as the SC-2010, against a competent player you would lose almost every time. While the SC-2010 was more accurate and had a faster fire rate it’s time to kill was much longer and therefore was never used in professional play.

Infinite Warfare’s NV4 [Source: thejackalgaming.com]

In Infinite Warfare, we are lucky that we have two competitive assault rifles in the NV4 and the KBAR. They are both used in competitive play because the latter allows for more mid-range gun fights with its higher fire rate, meaning it can be used in and around the hardpoints. Furthermore, the NV4 holds its own place even though it has a slightly lower time to kill it is more accurate, meaning it can easily be utilized to lock down favorable spawns. Although, the submachine gun category is not so lucky with just the ERAD being a viable option.

In public matches, the players who want the best kill death ratio or a nuke will also use the best guns. I’m sure any casual player has been repeatedly killed by the KBAR while trying to use the Karma submachine gun. This is where pro players come into the equation – they also want more variation just for a different reason.

By having these players test the weaponry before the game is even out, we are more likely to end up with a balanced choice on release. Players like Aches will be able to tell when a gun is too overpowered in comparison to another and will be able to suggest realistic changes to balance the weapon.

Having balanced weapons leads to a more competitive game as it means players are on a more even battleground and can use what they feel comfortable with to win, whether that be in multiplayer or competitive.

Competitive doesn’t mean esports

This leads onto another point in that competitive and esports are also two separate things that players confuse. I’m sure one idea pro players are pushing is the addition of a rewarding ranked playlist. We haven’t had a competitive playlist that felt both fun and rewarding to play since Black Ops 2 and is something I think has been sorely missed.

The old League Play system provided some of the most fun I’ve had with Call of Duty and it was with a bunch of friends who didn’t care about MLG or Gamebattles because at the heart of any player is the will to win because winning is fun. Whether that be in Team Deathmatch or on the main stage at the World Championship. Quite an extreme example, but you get the point.

Climbing League Play’s various ranks made Black Ops 2 a hit. [Source: callofduty.com]

Ranked play is somewhere in the middle where you can head into a game easily but know that everyone is playing to win. The professional players can help develop the mode since it leans towards their area of expertise and can input various ideas of their own and ones they have seen from other esports and suggest what would work best in Call of Duty.

These are just some of my thoughts on the situation you can add to the discussion by letting me know some of your own points.


You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles. You can find me on Twitter at @JackWrightIGL. Feature images courtesy of activision.com and MLG.

Ghost Gaming enters Call of Duty with signing of ex-BitterSweet roster

The only new addition to the Global Pro League (GPL) now has a new name. The roster that earned their spot ahead of CWL Anaheim originally played under the name Supreme Team before signing a contract with BitterSweet, but they were never expected to play under that organization come the GPL. After negotiations, the team consisting of Mike “SpaceLy” Schmale, Chance “Maux” Moncivaez, Andres “Lacefield”, and Devin “LlamaGod” Tran has been signed by Ghost Gaming.

The negotiations between BitterSweet and Ghost Gaming arrived at an agreement: $50k signing bonus (split) and $4k monthly salaries (each). Without other salaries easily obtainable for comparison, it’s difficult to tell how this stacks up with other professional Call of Duty teams, but it surely shows that Call of Duty esports has come a long way. Just a few years ago, salaries were unheard of.

BitterSweet owner Alex Gonzalez confirmed with The Game Haus that his organization will not be taking a cut from the deal with Ghost Gaming, holding true to his previous promise that all money involved would go directly to the players.

Ghost Gaming qualified for the GPL after defeating eRa Eternity and Tainted Minds in the relegation tournament. They will be the only team in Stage Two that did not play in Stage One, taking the spot of European team Millenium.

Ghost Gaming is relatively new to esports and has not previously held a Call of Duty team. However, they also have teams in CS:GO and Gears of War. The CS:GO team is currently participating in the ESL Pro League and the Gears team has placed third at three major events since January.

Team manager Rob Stamey told The Game Haus that the organization had been looking for a Call of Duty team to represent them for some time.

“When I found out SpaceLy was looking for an organization I knew automatically we would go after him as he fits our organizational lifestyle and future vision. He also brings in three players with endless potential all three who have been in the trenches and proven themselves at the highest level,” Stamey said.

In the Call of Duty Global Pro League, Ghost Gaming will make their debut in week two of Stage Two when they take on FaZe Clan, Enigma6, and Elevate. FaZe will be playing without their former captain, James “Clayster” Eubanks, after swapping him for Pierce “Gunless” Hillman, who made a name for himself on eUnited. Ghost Gaming, while playing under the BitterSweet banner, placed 9th-12th at CWL Anaheim, better than both FaZe and Elevate. Without knowing how well the new FaZe roster meshes and Ghost Gaming not previously playing in the Global Pro League, this group may be the most competitive of Stage Two.

Ghost Gaming will be boot camping at their head offices to prepare for the GPL. Let us know how you think they will perform in the comments below!


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Image: Major League Gaming

 

 

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